Types of hearing loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an issue with the outer or middle ear, which interferes with sounds passing through to the inner ear. It can be caused by a build up of earwax, an ear infection, a perforated ear drum, a build up of fluid, or otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear).

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occcurs when there is damage to the inner ear (hearing organ, cochlea, or auditory nerve), meaning that it is unable to accurately transmit information to the brain.   Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent.

It can be caused by the natural ageing process, excessive noise exposure, or certain types of medications.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss occurs when both Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss are present. The sensorineural component of the hearing loss is permanent, whereas the conductive component can be either permanent or temporary.

EG: You may have sensorineural hearing loss because you work in an environment exposed to loud noises, and you may also have fluid in your middle ear.

Identifying hearing loss

Babies and young children

Signs that your baby/child may have hearing loss:

  • Non-responsive when you are speaking to them
  • Turning their head in different directions to try to hear
  • Asking you to repeat yourself
  • Having difficulties with speech and language (trouble forming words and sentences)
  • Straining to hear soft noises
  • Trouble distinguishing voices when there are multiple people in a conversation

Adults

Signs that you might have hearing loss:

  • It seems as though everyone is mumbling
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Conversations are hard to follow in noisy environments
  • Reading lips rather than listening to words in conversations
  • Others have commented that you have the TV turned up loud
  • You often have a ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Difficulty hearing high pitched sounds